Opening this weekend is the big screen adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. The 1993 Young Adult novel has quickly become a favorite among readers in the 20 years since it’s been published. While the adaptation is getting mixed reviews, there have been a number of stellar film adaptations that have surpassed readers’ expectations. With that in mind, we oriented our Netflix streaming guide around the best of book-to-film transformations.
Of Total Film’s 50 Greatest Book Movie Adaptations, we found 10 options worth streaming, plus a bonus: The Hunger Games — a film that relates purely based on the idea of being a dystopian novel turn big budget movie starring pretty young things.
Trainspotting (1996) based on the 1993 novel by Irvine Welsh
Starring: Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle
Total Film’s greatest change from book to film: “Different story threads are told in the novel by a variety of characters, whereas Renton is the sole narrator in the movie.”
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) based on the 1988 novel by Thomas Harris
Starring: Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins
Total Film’s greatest change from book to film: “Lecter’s line of movie dialogue: ‘I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti’ was originally in the novel ‘…a nice Amarone.’ Not huge, we’ll admit, but for one of the film’s most quoted lines — it’s a biggie.”
The English Patient (1996) based on the 1992 novel by Michael Ondaatje
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, and Kristin Scott Thomas
Total Film’s greatest change from book to film: “The love story between Hana and Kip is the central romance of the novel, whereas in the movie, they are underplayed and the less prominent tale of the Patient takes centre stage.”
American Psycho(2000) based on the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis
Starring: Christian Bale and Jared Leto
Total Film’s greatest change from book to film: ” The body count shown onscreen is considerably less than in the novel – including the painstaking details of the deaths. Bateman’s first murder of the homeless man and his dog is far more brutal.”